A MONASH councillor has taken the extraordinary step of asking the Victorian Electoral Commission to declare the Oakleigh Ward election void and re-run it at a later date.
Last week, Glen Waverley Ward incumbent Geoff Lake lodged an official complaint with the VEC against Oakleigh Ward candidate Benjamin Djung.
The Weekly has learned that Mr Djung, 19, lives in Canberra, where he studies at the Australian National University.
Mr Djung said he was advised by a Liberal Party member he could run in the Oakleigh ward because he still returns to Melbourne regularly — about twice a month.
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But in a letter to Jeff Gazzard, the returning officer for the Monash council elections, Mr Lake said Mr Djung was not eligible to be a candidate despite being listed on the electoral roll at a Chadstone address.
"By his own admission, Mr Djung does not satisfy the residency requirements on which his enrolment, and therefore his candidature, is based because this Chadstone property is not his principal place of residence," it said.
"It would appear that Mr Djung is not qualified to be a candidate given that he is not entitled to be on the electoral roll at the Chadstone address."
Preference data shows that if Mr Djung fails in his bid to win a seat on the council, his preferences will flow to fellow Oakleigh Ward candidate and Liberal Party member Theo Zographos, and then to other candidates who also preference Mr Zographos.
Mr Lake told the Weekly he had asked the returning officer to declare the Oakleigh election void. "I understand this is an extraordinary step, but when a major political party is implicated in running illegal candidates that will likely tarnish the electoral outcome, the community deserves appropriate action be taken to protect the democratic legitimacy of the process."
"The Oakleigh Ward election is now tarnished beyond repair."
While the VEC would not directly comment on the case, information officer Paul Thornton-Smith clarified the criteria for candidates to run in a local election.
"I can't speak about any individual but you have to be enrolled for the principal place of residence," he said.
"The principal place of residence includes the place of living to which a person, when temporarily living elsewhere, has a fixed intention of returning for the purpose of continuing to live at that place.
"If somebody's temporarily living away from their home but they intend to go back there, it's still the principal place of residence. There are quite a few students in that position."
Mr Thornton-Smith said the definition was vague. "It's up to the person to be honest but to interpret it."
"When everybody nominates, they have to make a declaration saying they're qualified to be a candidate. They have to basically say it in good faith, that they're qualified to be a candidate."